America! Who likes it? It's merely a schizophrenic jumble of 50 warring personalities all vying to be number one. But of course they can't all be. So which state is the best? And more importantly, which one is worst? Well, we've set out to determine just that. Welcome to the Worst States in America.
Because we're nothing if not thorough, we'll actually be ranking all 50 states, starting today and continuing on through midweek next week. And lest you think that this is some totally arbitrary decision-making process, we've very scientifically polled the Gawker staff and had each person rank the states from 1.0-10.0 We averaged those votes and came up with an overall score for each state. Pretty professional stuff here. So, let's get started.
50. New York
Oops! So much for being unbiased. Most of us at Gawker do, yes, live in this state. But that doesn't mean that it should be immediately excluded from being named America's least-worst state. It's pretty great!
The Good: New York recently decided to jump on the glittery gay bandwagon and pass same sex marriage laws, putting it into a (dismayingly) small club of American states. Other than that, New York has the global cultural center that is
Rochester New York City, there are lovely places like the Adirondacks and the Catskills that make for good vacationing and settings for movies about sexy dancing, and if you drive from one end of the state to another you can go from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. New York has it all!
The Bad: Remember when a bunch of greedy New Yorkers ruined the economy of the Western world? Oops. And New York City and its immediate environs are quickly being overtaken by a bunch of so-called hipsters who are really just bourgeoisie yuppies in training. There's an Ivy League death trap up in the Finger Lakes. And the less said about Buffalo and the North Country the better.
Final Score: 8.39
Small and stony land of liberalism, Massachusetts has a reputation for free-thinking intellectual types who vote left and think even lefter. Wicked pissah!
The Good: As evidence of said liberalism, the Bay State was the first to legalize same-sex marriage, all the way back in 2004. And sports: the Red Sox are second in their division right now, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup (and caused destruction to our most hated enemy, Canada), the Celtics made the playoffs, and the Patriots only lost two games last season. Capital city Boston is full of smart people and colleges and universities, Cape Cod and the islands and the Berkshires are iconic vacation havens, and the furniture stores are also amusement parks.
The Bad: Boston, while certainly a Volvo-driving leftie mecca, is also notoriously racially segregated and class divided. And then have you ever driven 45 minutes outside of the city? Or been to Fall River or New Bedford or any of the mill towns out west that time has forgotten? Yikes. And back to those sports, Massachusetts fans are notoriously The Worst and you could probably have a nice baseball team too if you pumped millions and millions of dollars into it. Oh and bars close at 2am.
Final Score: 8.04
America's honeymoon resort, the islands of Hawaii are both celebrated and forgotten, the perfect place to disappear for a week or for the rest of your life.
The Good: It's Hawaii! Beaches and mountains and lava. Lots and lots of lava. Plus it's so far away that the rest of this godforsaken nation doesn't pay much attention to it, so it could be a good place to lay low for a spell while the heat dies down.
The Bad: Because the state is just a bunch of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the cost of living is pretty damn high. It's a good place to stage a decades-long conspiracy to put a foreign-born national in the White House. If you want to live there you have to deal with awful tourists all the time, or you have to live way far out in a volcano or something. The whole thing will probably be wiped out by a giant tsunami one day. Most importantly, it's overrun with terrible chickens.
Final Score: 7.71
The Green Mountain State is a bastion of backwoods free-thinking and ice cream manufacturing, though dark forces may be lurking in its hills.
The Good: The perpetually two credits shy, Birkenstock-wearing member of the New England family, Vermont is a refuge for old hippies who just want to get away from it all. And that's kind of fun! They make good cheese there and most people seem nice. Burlington is a pretty chill town. The whole state's real pretty, with its mountains and white churches and all that. Just a pleasant place to be. Except in winter.
The Bad: If you're looking for diversity, Vermont, which is about 98% white, isn't exactly the place for you. There are basically no gun laws, so even that guy with the ponytail and the beat-up old Subaru could be packing heat. In fact, there are definitely some real wackos lurking in the state's shadowy valleys and snow-blasted mountaintops. Vermont can also be very, very cold! Just very, very cold. And snowy. If you don't like skiing to work, look to settle elsewhere.
Final Score: 7.62
Home to roughly 12% of the nation's people, California is by far our most populous state. With that comes many good things. And also lots of bad.
The Good: California is big and beautiful and varied. You can be at the beach, in the mountains, and in the desert on the same day. Along the coast, the weather is pretty livable most of the time. As states go, Cali is pretty progressive on the politics front, though mostly in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Really, though, the main reason to love California is that you can get as stoned as you want on premium kine bud totally legally, as long as you have a doctor's note.
The Bad: The state starts to look slightly less than progressive when you consider Proposition 8, the Governator, the existence of San Diego and Orange County, and this whole disaster. Plus there's the aforementioned city of Los Angeles, a wasted hellscape of strip malls and strippers and people desperate to be in "the industry." Oh, and, well, the entire state is broke and their public school system is "broken" and nobody has a house there anymore.
Final Score: 7.29
The land o' lakes sometimes appears to be about as perfect a slice of Americana as can be. But of course Americana is often a scary, terrible thing.
The Good: The Twin Cities area tends to be a pragmatically progressive, pleasant place to live. There's lots of good cultural stuff like theater and all that. Outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul, there is lots of picturesque, Scandinavian-tilled farmland dotted with lakes. That landscape is also, at one point anyway, dotted with the Mall of America, an enormous shopping complex complete with indoor Nickelodeon theme park. If that's too crassly commercial for you, down the road a bit is the (disputed) world's largest ball of twine. Oh, and one of Minnesota's senators is Stuart Smalley! The best thing about Minnesota, though? Fried food.
The Bad: Uh, well, the government shut down. Also, Michele Bachmann. The conservative movement is only growing in Minnesota, and though it seems like a gently folksy kinda place, it's not always so pleasant. But really the main way that Minnesota is shitty? It's cold.
Final Score: 7.11
Home of coffee and rain, Washington State is one of America's best places to brood.
The Good: There are pretty things to look at! There's the Puget Sound, Olympic and Cascades National Parks, the weird deserts of the eastern part of the state, the San Juan islands, and snow-capped Mt. Rainier. Seattle is also a fairly cosmopolitan city, home to Frasier and a(n admittedly dwindling) music scene. Washington is home to Microsoft and Amazon, useful if not entirely unevil corporations. Most importantly, of course, Washington is home to Bella Swann and the Twilight vampadventures, the most romantic story ever created by humans.
The Bad: Starbucks launched its great global coffee takeover from Washington. Seattle has been scientifically proven to be one of America's most annoying cities. It rains all the time. Spokane is a weird place. Did we mention it rains all the time? It rains all the time. And, again, it should be reiterated that Seattle is a very annoying place.
Final Score: 7.05
Washington's neighbor to the south, Oregon is a place you'll want to, uh, make a trail to.
The Good: Portland is a great city. Full of artists and thinkers and other weirdos — it's the verdant farmers market of your dreams, an easy-to-live-in medium-sized city where the dream of the '90s is still alive. There are also other great towns in Oregon like Ashland (home to the word-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival), hippie-filled Eugene, and the hilariously named Coos Bay. Ramona Quimby is from Oregon, which is also pretty significant. Plus there's lots of pretty Pacific Northwest nature-type places, from Mt. Hood to sprawling national forests.
The Bad: Like Washington, it rains a lot. Hippies can get kind of annoying, as can farmers markets. And those pretty Pacific Northwest nature-type places? They can get kind of creepy if you get turned around on their dark and winding back roads. There's a huge earthquake coming any day now. Also, once you leave Oregon you have to drive a whole hell of a long way until you get anywhere else, unless of course you drive north to Seattle, but who would want to do that?
Final Score: 6.95
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 1
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 2
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 3
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 4
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 5
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 6
Photos: Hawaii (kenlund/Flickr); Vermont (bunkosquad/Flickr); California (kenlund/Flickr); Minnesota (auvet/Flickr); Massachusetts (hardrive/Flickr); Washington (jstephenconn/Flickr); New York (mpd01605/Flickr); Oregon (auvet/Flickr)